Charles J. Krysiak, retired chairman of the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission who represented a Southeast Baltimore district in the legislature for the better part of two decades, died of liver disease Tuesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 67.
Born in Fells Point, he was a graduate of Holy Rosary Parochial School and worked in area drugstores to put himself through Loyola High School, where he was a 1955 graduate. He earned a bachelor's degree from Loyola College and a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
He went into law practice with George Hofferbert, who was long a figure in east-side politics. Mr. Krysiak got involved in politics after his 1962 marriage to Carolyn Fabiszak.
Through his wife's mother's family, Mr. Krysiak met the Machs and the Jarosinskis, politically connected East Baltimore families. In 1962, he won his first election - as a delegate to the state Democratic convention.
He won a seat in the House of Delegates in 1966 from the old 1st District, which then ran from Fells Point to the eastern city line. He was allied with the former Hofferbert-D'Alesandro 1st District Democratic Club, the 2nd Ward Polish American Democratic Club and the Quo Vadis Democratic Club. He later represented the 46th Legislative District.
"He was one of the last of that long Polish line who served in Annapolis, going back to Chester Kosakowski," said former Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III. "He had a streak of independence that separated him from the rest of the crowd. And he was smart."
Friends recalled Mr. Krysiak as articulate and dapper, and said he liked to enjoy an occasional cigar.
"He was a good protector of the people in Southeast Baltimore," said Cornell Dypski, a former delegate and state senator. "He looked out for them."
Mr. Krysiak won the praise of constituents by blocking a landfill near what is now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. In one of his most visible fights, he helped stop a plan to convert an old Continental Can building on East Biddle Street into a prison.
He became chairman of the House Constitution and Administrative Law Committee.
"We used to kid him about the beat-up car [a 1957 Chevrolet] he drove to Annapolis," said former state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski. "He told us his constituents would come into his office and discuss a problem that was actually legal in nature. He'd resolve their issue, send them a bill - and they'd refuse to pay it. They thought it was part of the services due them."
Mr. Krysiak was re-elected four times, although he did not serve his last term. In early 1979, he resigned to take an appointment by acting Gov. Blair Lee III to the chairmanship of what was then the Workmen's Compensation Commission, where he remained for 20 years before retiring in 1999.
He initiated the Workers' Compensation Education Association, a volunteer group composed of unions, employers, lawyers and rehabilitation professionals who meet to propose legislation and regulation changes.
In his free time, Mr. Krysiak read about the Civil War and visited New Orleans to hear Dixieland jazz. He requested that "When the Saints Go Marching In" be played after his funeral.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church, 6400 E. Pratt St.
Survivors include his wife, who has represented District 46 in the House of Delegates since 1991; three sons, Charles G. Krysiak and Paul D. Krysiak, both of Baltimore, and Mark E. Krysiak of Middle River; two daughters, Carolyn Krysiak Shiflett of Middle River and Anne Krysiak Barnaba of Baltimore; a brother, Robert Krysiak of Fallston; and five grandchildren.
Charles J. Krysiak:
The obituary of Charles J. Krysiak in yesterday's editions of The Sun mistakenly included a photograph of his son. The obituary is reprinted today.
The Sun regrets the error.
Charles J. Krysiak:The obituary of Charles J. Krysiak in yesterday's editions of The Sun mistakenly included a photograph of his son. The obituary is reprinted today. (October 23, 2004)The Sun regrets the error.